2016 was a difficult year in many respects. We lost seemingly immortal figures in music like David Bowie and Prince. America saw the biggest divide among it’s citizens due to politics since the civil war. There was violent protest, media manipulation and just an all around air of uncertainty.
However, I can’t say it was all negative. The year was filled with plenty of things I truly loved! Stranger Things on Netflix made nostalgic for an era I was far too young to remember. Pokemon GO forced me to actually get up and move around while being glued to my phone. Pitchfork Music Festival and Riot Fest restored my love for seeing festivals among thousands of people.
The greatest thing about 2016 was the music. With such turbulent times in society, it’s not shocking to see so many people look to art for sanctuary. In fact, I can’t think of any recent year to rival the album release we in the past 12 months! I’m not going to bore you with yet another year end best of list, but instead I’m giving you a playlist of my favorite songs to be released as singles this year.
As with my previous playlist here at 50thirdand3rd, I’m omitting a few tracks that’s missing from Spotify at the moment. Being it’s 2016 it’s only fair that I keep the list down to 16. Keep in mind this playlist is just some of the songs I love and in no way does it represent the favorites from the other writers or the site as a collective.
Without further ado, here’s 16 of my favorite songs of 2016 (in no particular order)
Bleached “Wednesday Night Melody” – No matter how bad life can get, music is always there for us. Sometimes you just gotta drop the needle on the groove and let it all go! This track is the perfect example of why “music therapy” is so important to me. Bleached is an amazing band and some of the nicest ladies I’ve ever met. Check out this album, you won’t be sorry!
Iggy Pop “Gardenia” – As one of the only OG legends left, we needed this album from Iggy in 2016. It has all the sleaze and wit we’ve come to expect from the Godfather of Punk, but there’s also a hint of sadness that comes with reaching the later part of one’s life. This track was the lead single and beautifully represents with the record is about.
PUP “DVP” – For me, the first face melter in 2016 came from PUP’s lead single from their 2nd album. With a music video referencing the videogames I grew up with, and spitfire angst, what’s not to love!?
Alex Newell, DJ Cassidy and Nile Rodgers “Kill The Lights” – HBO’s Vinyl was not a perfect show, but I still enjoyed it. One of the things it did do right was the music. Not only did it feature a plethora of today’s brightest stars doing spot on renditions of early 70s classics but there was also a few original tracks like this one. Before being unfairly canceled, the show was setting up the birth of the disco movement and this track from the faux-band Indigo, was to bring the revolution. Oddly enough this single reached number 2 on Billboard and became the first disco song to char that high since 1980. As for the show, there’s an amazing E-book that gets in-depth with the music-to-scene aspect of the show and can be downloaded HERE.
The Monkees “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster” – Who could’ve guesses we’d be getting a new Monkees album in 2016? Instead of pleading some sort of case they were a real band, the surviving members decided to play to their strengths and pay tribute to themselves. The first single “She Makes Me Laugh” was written by Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo and sounded just like 1965 all over again, but the next single “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster” plays up the psychedelica found a few years later. Written by Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller, this track is better than a tongue in cheek parody, it’s a legitimate good song!
Camp Cope “Song For Charlie” – The self titled debut album of Camp Cope easily takes the top spot for album of the year for me. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel of alternative rock by any means, but no other album in the last decade has had an emotional effect on me like this album. The climax of the record is heartbreaking in the most empowering way possible.
Bob Mould “Voices In My Head” – From Husker Du, Sugar and his own prolific solo career, Mould has released amazing music throughout the last 3 decades. It’s only right his latest album is a bit more personal. It’s brave to tackle depression and anxiety in the lead single, but just as ambitious to tackle it with distorted guitars and garage rock sentiment.
Taking Back Sunday “Tidal Wave” – Taking Back Sunday isn’t ready to become boring Dad Rock just yet. The title track single from their 7th album, ditches the brooding emo vibes for something that sounds like Tom Petty joined forces with The Clash. It was next to impossible to get the sing along chorus out of my head the very first I heard it! I think it’s still there actually…
Yuck “Stranger Things” – After a line-up change a few years ago, many had given up hope on Yuck. Now they’ve found their groove, they’ve delivered one of my favorite albums of the year. “Stranger Things” is equal parts Teenage Fan Club and Superdrag and proves that even a song about self-loathing can be fun!
Reverends “Wakin Up” – Another track from one of my favorite albums of the year. Reverends’ reverb soaked psyche-rock can be dark and ominous but this track proves they also have a softer side. The whole record is fantastic but there’s probably some serious wear and tear on this track of vinyl copy.
Car Seat Headrest “Fill In The Blank” – I know “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” will probably go down as their breakout song, but seeing them play this at Pitchfork Music Festival this year, completely sold me on the album. There’s no doubt in my mind Will Toledo is this generation’s Bob Pollard.
High Waisted “Party In The Back” – Can a song about getting a new hair style be fun? Sure! All you need is the perfect blend of surf and rock n roll! I had the chance to hang with these guys for a bit at Riot Fest Chicago this year and their angle on the do-it-yourself movement in music really won me over. Another reminder that rock n roll can still be fun.
Bon Iver “33 GOD” – It took me a few listens for the album to click with me. I’m a fan of Bon Iver’s mellow acoustic vibes found on earlier works. Once it clicked I realized it’s ambition was the the strongest aspect of the entire record. Pitch shifting effects and digital manipulation are things usually not found in a folk record but this isn’t a folk record! Instead it’s some sort of experiment that plays upon our emotions and fears.
Radiohead “Burn The Witch” – It’s not even my favorite track on the album, but in a world where leaks and streams are the norm, it’s a remarkable thing to legitimately surprise an audience with a release! I’m not going to lie and say I had the most faith in Radiohead to blow me away with an album after their previous one. A Moon Shaped Pool is sort of a step backward into more conventional song writing instead of experimentation. But a safe Radiohead record is still leaps and bounds greater than what’s being churned out by other bands made famous in the 90s.
A Tribe Called Quest “We The People” – Even after the death of Phife Dawg, Tribe returned with the most satisfying Hip-Hop album of the year. Without getting too political here, this song seems like the perfect sentiment on how minorities are being treated in the country.
David Bowie “Blackstar” – What more really needs to be said about this song and album? One of the greatest artists in the recorded history of music, left us with one hell of a parting gift. The planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing we can do…..